EPA Awards $75,000 in Funding to the University of Central Florida to Solve Environmental and Public Health Challenges
ORLANDO, Fla. (October 1, 2020) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $75,000 to the University of Central Florida in Orlando as part of a total of $594,424 in funding for eight undergraduate and graduate student teams from colleges and universities across the country through EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant program. The eight teams are being awarded Phase II funding to develop their proposed solutions to pressing environmental problems including determining trace levels of lead in drinking water, controlling harmful algal blooms, and removing Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from wastewater effluent for reuse in agriculture.
“I congratulate these students for their innovative ideas to solve some of our biggest environmental challenges,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The student teams in this competition have shown exemplary work and are excellent representatives of the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
"Students are applying their classroom experiences to tackle pressing and complex environmental issues,” said Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. "EPA is proud to support the team from the University of Central Florida as they find innovative, sustainable solutions to protect our environment and our natural resources.”
“In this project, a simple lead check in tap water will be available using a novel electrochemical biopolymer sensor with the interdisciplinary collaboration between environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, and material science,” said Dr. Woo Hyoung Lee, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at University of Central Florida. “Having a simple lead detection tool can prevent severe human health risks from possible lead release in drinking water.”
The University of Central Florida will use this grant to develop an electrochemical modified carbon screen-printed sensor that can determine trace levels of lead at the terminal plumbing source (i.e. household faucets).
The P3 program is a two-phase research grant program that challenges student teams to research, develop, and design innovative projects addressing environmental and public health challenges. The winning teams are building upon their successes in Phase I where they each received up to $15,000. With today’s announcement of Phase II funding of up to $75,000 per team, the teams will now further develop those projects and designs to ensure they can be sustainably implemented in the field.
Other P3 Phase II recipients include:
- Brown University, Providence, R.I., to develop a renewable treatment system using naturally occurring proteins found in bacteria to remove trace levels of arsenic from drinking water.
- Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., to design a vertical-flow, waste-free water pump that returns drinking water to communities while reducing electricity costs associated with conventional pumps used in water treatment plants.
- Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, to develop a prototype of UV LED fuel vapor emissions control devices for use in cars.
- New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, N.J., to develop a chemical process that can help control harmful algal blooms and remove cyanotoxins without leaving disinfection by-products.
- Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill., to develop a cost-effective and environmentally friendly method to remove PFAS from wastewater effluent for reuse in agriculture.
- University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala., to build a data-based model to characterize the discharge of untreated wastewater into the ground in rural Alabama where conditions for conventional septic systems are unsuitable.
- University of California, Riverside, Riverside, Calif., to use a new approach to produce high quality, cellulose-rich hemp pulp that improves the strength and insulating properties of hempcrete building materials.
Since the P3 program’s inception in 2004, EPA has funded student teams to develop sustainable technologies that help solve important environmental and public health challenges. To date, EPA has awarded over 720 P3 projects for a total amount of $16,745,235 involving more than 4,000 students at 234 institutions in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Research from previous P3 awards continues to make a difference today. Many student teams have taken their experience and funding to go on to start small businesses across the country. For example, a former P3 team from Harvard University launched One Earth Designs, a startup that sells solar-powered grills, which can also function as space heaters and electric generators. Another former P3 team from Cornell University funded SUNN, a company that sells energy efficient indoor LED light fixtures.
To learn more about the Phase II awarded institutions: https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/671/records_per_page/ALL
For more information on the P3 Program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/P3.